Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Console Wars

Every once in a while I find my way to a book that has me looking at my childhood in a slightly different way, and causes me to rethink the things I did and why.

Blake Harris' Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation, looks at (roughly) the five year span in the first half the 1990s when SEGA moved from bit player in the video game industry to a massive giant, eventually toppling the stranglehold Nintendo had on the industry at the time.

From 1990-1995 I was pretty much exactly the target audience of the SEGA genesis; aged 14 to 19 and having been raised on the classic Nintendo, a new machine advertising more grown-up games and turning my (then) current system into a baby toy as far as I was concerned, I was definitely jealous of all of my friends who had one and played my way through as many Genesis games as I could get my hands on.

What this book does so ingeniously is to look at the story from the point of view of businessmen and marketers.  At a time when the toy industry was distancing itself from videogame consoles after the collapse of ATARI, Nintendo worked its way into being the defacto video game console in both the East and the West throughout the late 1980s.  Part of what I loved about the book was the context and perspective it gave to the story, expressing that monopolies are not seen as negative in Japan and that much of SEGAs success came from some very savvy marketing ideas, as well as a certain hedgehog.

A fascinating read about the men who created, developed, and marketed one of the toys that defined a generation, Console Wars is well worth the read.

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